It’s time to kick back and relax river-style! Tubing and kayaking are two activities that need to be at the top of your “Mountain Fun Bucket List”. While on the water, you can enjoy the stunning scenery and let the flowing waterways of North Georgia work their magic! Kayaking requires some arm strength and a bit of determination, but there are definite moments of downtime. Tubing on the other hand involves a whole bunch of sitting and relaxing! If you’re looking for an adventure that makes you feel at ease and involves kicking your feet up, tubing is the type of trip for you.
These activities are enjoyed by all ages and allow you to see an entirely new side of the Blue Ridge nature. You may experience a rush of excitement navigating through low-class rapids, but that’s what helps you move along! Whether you’re on a kayak paddling with an oar or using your palms to guide your tube, a day on the waters is never wasted! The businesses listed below attribute to why Blue Ridge continues to have visitors explore the great outdoors year after year!
Toccoa Valley Campground
11481 Aska Rd, Blue Ridge, GA 30513 | (706) 838-4317 | Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 10am-6pm
Located only a few miles from downtown Blue Ridge, the Toccoa Valley Campground has everything you could need for an outing in the mountains. Tubing, kayaking, and rafting are all available. Their water route takes you on a private 6-mile stretch of the Toccoa River. It has been one of North Georgia’s most popular attractions for over 50 years!
This tubing trip will take you through parts of the beautiful Toccoa River in less than an hour and a half. Shallowford Bridge Tube Rental is one of the oldest, family-owned companies for tubing in the Aska Adventure Area. Visitors are launched into the river at Sandy Bottoms and are sent off on their breezy cruise. At the end of your adventure, you’ll get an up-close view of the historic steel truss Shallowford Bridge!
Blue Ridge Mountain Kayaking
56 North River Rd. Morganton, GA 30560 | (706) 258-2411 | Hours: Monday-Sunday 9am-6pm
You can choose your journey while at Blue Ridge Mountain Kayaking! This kayak-only business is located just 2 miles away from downtown Blue Ridge. They offer 2 thrilling expeditions on the Toccoa River including a 6-mile and 12-mile trip. The 6-mile kayak trip takes travelers an estimated 2 hours to complete and the 12-mile trip takes an estimated 4 hours to complete. While kayaking, adventurers can enjoy fishing, swimming, and breathtaking sights of mountains along the route!
Toccoa Wilderness Tubing
8436 B Aska Rd. Blue Ridge, GA 30513 | (706) 455-6496 | Hours: Monday-Sunday 10am-3pm
All you have to do is bring your crew and the fun will follow! The Toccoa Wilderness Company makes river tubing easy and enjoyable. With a shuttle to the Sandy Bottoms launch area, your toes will be in the water in a matter of minutes. Sit back and let the water carry you away! The 2-mile float finishes its course at the Shallowford Bridge.
Lakewood Landing Boat Launch
Boat Ramp Rd 30560, Morganton, GA 30560
If you are already a lucky owner of a kayak or a boat, then this is the spot for you! This boat launch is located on the north side of Lake Blue Ridge. You can spend the day as you please on the 3,000+ acres of the lake. The lake offers unbeatable views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.
Jon Ron Toccoa River Outfitters
15 Black Ankle Creek Rd. Cherry Log, GA 30522 | (706) 838-0200 | Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 10am-2pm
At Jon Ron Toccoa River Outfitters, there are plenty of options for you to hit the water! There are half-day and full-day solo or guided kayak trips that take you through the upper Toccoa River. They also have trips that can shuttle guests to kayak or canoe at Lake Blue Ridge. If you’re a beginner or pro, Jon Ron Toccoa River Outfitters can satisfy your need to explore the great outdoors!
Toccoa River Tubing Company
340 Toccoa Ave. McCaysville, GA 30555 | (706) 492-5280 | Call for Seasonal Hours
Grab your family and get ready to go! The Toccoa River Tubing Company, located on the border of Georgia and Tennessee, offers a variety of canoeing, kayaking, and tubing trips. Tubing at this spot of the Toccoa River involves a 1.5-mile and 3-mile float. If you are looking to kayak, there are 1.5-mile and 6-mile trips available. With small rapids, clean water, and picturesque scenery, this is an activity that you’ll have to experience for yourself!
Bringing your dog with you on your Blue Ridge mountain vacation can enrich a trip in so many ways. You’ll meet and talk to dog-loving strangers who otherwise would have passed right by you. You’ll travel to dog-friendly parks and other places that wouldn’t ordinarily be on your itinerary. You’ll have a built-in reason to go outside, exercise and have fun. Most meaningfully, you’ll have your best friend at your side. We are glad that you and your four legged pooch have decided to stay with us, and we thought we’d take this opportunity to share some of Blue Ridge’s favorite canine and people friendly spots.
Let’s Get Our 20,000 Steps In
Fido isn’t wearing a Fitbit, but he does have twice as many legs that welcome the fresh air and exercise that come as a vacation bonus here in the foothills of the Appalachians. The Chattahoochee National Forest is dog-friendly. When combined with the Oconee National Forest, the Chattahoochee National Forest spans nearly 867,000 acres across 26 counties and features thousands of miles of clear streams and rivers, 850 miles of recreation trails, picnic areas, and areas rich in natural scenery, history, and culture. Hikers bringing their dogs on the trails must keep them under verbal or physical restraint at all times—using a leash in crowded areas is highly encouraged.
If your dog loves to socialize with her canine counterparts, then a visit to the Humane Society of Blue Ridge Dog Park is a must. An off leash park there offers both Big dog and Small Dog areas. There are toys to play with or you are welcome to bring your furkids favorite fetch toy. Clean up bags are provided, but you need to do the heavy lifting and disposal into the litter cans. The park is open sun-up till sun-down, 7 days a week.
Shopping is GRRRRReat
Blue Ridge Cotton Company is a dog-friendly clothing store, located in downtown Blue Ridge. Inside the store, you’ll find an extensive pet section, including gifts, books, leashes in a variety of colors, treats, and more. There’s even more irresistible human stuff, too. Additionally, Blue Ridge Cotton Company donates one percent of every purchase to a number of animal charities in the local area.
If it’s a girls day out, then the two of you need to head over to Humble Pie Ladies Boutique. A pet-friendly ladies outfitter in Blue Ridge, the clothing they stock is Bohemian-style, unique, affordable and comfortable. Dogs are welcome to join you in the dressing room as you decide which flowing dress or headband best suits you.
Love Dogs and Cats Too is a pet-friendly store full of items for Fido and Fluffy. They stock everything from healthy treats and snazzy leashes to plush toys and comfy beds. Dogs are welcome inside to sniff out their birthday gift or drop some hints as to their favorite kind of toy to take home.
Drinking out of a bowl, frosted mug or goblet
Eventually you and your pet are going to get thirsty. Though your four legged friend isn’t old enough to legally indulge in liquid spirits, he/she will still love to socialize with you as you test out some of the finest in craft beers and wines produced in our region. Hanging out on the patio seating at Grumpy Old Men’s Brewing will actually put you all in a good mood. Fannin Brewing Company is another favorite for Fido travelers and the Ale beer connoisseur on the other end of the leash. Just up the road from downtown Blue Ridge is Bear Claw Vineyards & Winery, a boutique farm winery with vineyards where production of handcrafted wines are offered in the tasting room which also includes a dog friendly patio. Salud!
This Movie Rates 5 Bones
When was the last time you took your pooch to the movies? Here in Blue Ridge you can bring Chunky with you to catch Call of the Wild (or Lady and the Tramp if she’s into chick flicks) on the biggest screen she’s ever seen – at the Swan Drive-in Theater. Screening since 1955, this drive-in features 1st run blockbusters & an old-school snack bar with burgers. You’ll love the nostalgia, your pet will dig the burger bar outdoor patio and you’ll both enjoy the movie.
French Fries to Fine Dining
It’s vacation, and McDonalds isn’t going to do for either of you. It’s time to try new gourmet delights, something that didn’t come out of a can. Toccoa Riverside Restaurant, located in Blue Ridge, GA, is a casual eatery that serves up a variety of delicious American fare. Best known for their local trout dishes, it’s best not to mention to your pet that there is also catfish on the menu. Spot is welcome to join you at one of their pet-friendly outdoor tables while you enjoy your meal. (They even offer a special menu just for pups with options like hot dogs, burgers, chicken, rice, and more!) And there is live entertainment for your pet too, as they quack up watching the ducks waddling along the river bed.
You don’t have to be a Polish Greyhound to enjoy the patio dining at Margo’s Gourmet Polish Kitchen. Margo makes everything fresh daily, and Cuddles will appreciate that she refers to her famous steamed weiners as sausages, not hot dogs. If you are both preferring something more like a pizza than a pierogi, upstairs from Margo’s is where Blue Jeans Pizza is located. Rated #1 Blue Ridge Pizza on Trip Advisor, this Italian-American eatery also serves up menu options like appetizers, salads, burgers, pizza, strombolis, calzones, subs, pasta, wraps, and more. And your furry bambino is welcome to join you at their outdoor patio seating.
When the palate calls for something more upscale or a certain date night ambience, then be sure to sniff out these two places. Harvest on Main has comfortable seating on their patio under the porch for both you and your furkid. Don’t share the menu though. Cuddles will have you ordering the Smoked Duroc Bone-In Pork Chop served with Red Skinned Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Pork Collard Greens, topped with Mushroom Ragout. Guess who wants the bone?
And talk about the right canine atmosphere to indulge in culinary perfection, check out the 200 year old tree that Cuddles can rest under while you indulge in what’s been voted the best weekend brunch in Blue Ridge at The Black Sheep, just a short walk down Main Street.
If you are lucky enough to be spending the Thanksgiving holiday in the mountains, we have an extra special treat for you this year! Not only do you get to enjoy the tranquil beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the comfort of your luxury cabin rental, but you also get to adventure out into the most quintessential little town. From our abundance of natural resources like hiking trails, waterfalls, and soaring mountains, we are also proud to share with you the heartbeat of our community – Downtown Blue Ridge.
Of course, anytime is a fantastic time to Escape to Blue Ridge, but when you plan a visit during the holiday season, you will feel like you are stepping into a Hallmark Movie. The town is beautifully decorated and festive from every streetlight to each of the shopkeeper’s windows. The crispness of the mountain air and the excitement for the possibility of snow heightens your exhilaration and desire to explore every corner.
We could list one thousand plus reasons why you should visit Downtown Blue Ridge and of course shopping would be included on that very long list just as dining in our restaurants, meeting our residents, and experiencing the specialness of our beloved mountain community. This year you have ten more reasons to shop here because we have arranged for special Blue Friday savings to all of our Escape to Blue Ridge fans!
What? You don’t know what Blue Friday is? Well, allow me to explain. Blue Friday is Blue Ridge’s version of Black Friday, but it goes far beyond shopping and it is really the local kick-off to the entire holiday season! Let’s look at all the fun things there are to do and before we wrap this up, we’ll share your 10 special savings! Promise.
The Blue Ridge Turkey Trot is a family event for all ages
and abilities from walkers to competitive runners. Kick off the Thanksgiving
Day at 8am with a 5K race/walk. Registration starts at 7am and you are
encouraged to bring a canned food item for the Good Samaritans food pantry.
You’ll be able to enjoy all the holiday food guilt free after completing this
run/walk and be back to the cabin in time to put on the turkey. Registration is
$30 in advance or $40 on race day. Money raised will be donated to Blue Ridge charities.
Help light up the twin cities of McCaysville, Georgia and
Copperhill, Tennessee. Enjoy live holiday music, hot cocoa, and cookies.
Donation are welcome to support Christmas for Kids. The music begins at 4pm and
the tree lighting is a 7pm.
Light up Blue Ridge is a festive event for children and
adults alike. A full day of fun begins when Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive on The
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway where they will then be available in the town gazebo
for pictures. There will be performances all day. Santa and Mrs. Claus will
then be in the holiday parade at 5:30pm. Food vendors will surround the park,
winners of the window decorating contest will be announced, and then the
lighting of the 27 foot “Great Tree” takes place at 7:00pm.
Even More Holiday Events!
We covered all the BIG events, but there is so much more fun
to be had in this great little town. Our November Events
Newsletter features the play It’s A Wonderful Life at the Blue Ridge
Community Theater, live music, and a community Thanksgiving event! Our December Events
Newsletter features Santa Trains, a Tour of Homes, and Ice Skating!
Blue Friday Specials
Now for your special treat! Some of our favorite shops and
downtown Blue Ridge have decided to offer YOU special savings beginning on Blue
Friday and lasting all weekend long! (November 29-December 1) All you have to
do is let the proprietor know that you are a fan of Escape to Blue Ridge!
Appalachian Trail Rides offers guided horseback trail riding from beginner to advanced through the Blue Ridge Mountains on 250 acres located minutes from downtown Blue Ridge GA. On your ride take in beautiful views, wildlife, and creek crossings on customized rides with experienced guides. From family outings to corporate events and private rides to proposal rides, Appalachian Trail Rides will make your time in the Appalachian Mountains as memorable as possible.
Canoe is a lifestyle brand of bags and jewelry made right
here in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Their unique collection of bags and jewelry
effortlessly marry rustic charm with contemporary sophistication. Utilizing
natural materials with enduring appeal, every piece you purchase from Canoe
will be your new favorite for years to come!
Blue Ridge Cotton Company is a thoughtful store with a big
heart. Here you will find quality apparel at affordable prices for the entire
family. They are also your source for inspirational gifts, books and journals,
home accessories, unique gifts, and so much more.
The Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association (the Art Center) has been fostering the creative process in these mountains in excess of 32 years. The Art Center endeavors to promote art, artists & art experiences across the Southern Appalachian Region.
15% off ALL Art Supply Station supplies and items
Receive $5 off Holiday Gift Memberships!
All active BRMAA Members will receive 10% off all purchases
This full-service outfitter represents the premier outdoor
brands including The North Face, Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, YETI, Chaco and
much more. They are also authorized Trek and Cannondale bike dealers and offer
service of all makes.
If you are looking for a fun experience you need to tour
Blue Ridge by bike! Pedego Electric Bikes sells & rents the most fun
electric bikes in the world. They even offer guided tours that include
waterfall and swinging bridge adventures!
Mystic Mountain Pizza is a family owned and operated pizza restaurant with fantastic food and an inviting atmosphere! They have a passion for crafting fresh salads, all-beef gourmet hot dogs, wings, desserts, and specialty pizzas in their oak-fired brick ovens.
Last week this blog featured a tremendous round up of cabins
with great firepits. One of our favorite things about the weather changing is
sitting around the fire pit with a chill in the air, but you are completely
warm, not just by the heat of the fire but by the company you are so
enjoying. Adding to the ambiance of the
evening includes singing songs, swapping tall tales, and of course fire pit
It’s so fun if someone in your group has a guitar or harmonica, they could play for everyone to sing and clap along, but you don’t even need music to sing your favorite campfire songs! Telling ghost stories always proves to be a good time too. Although the ghost stories typically end up in squeals of laughter because you know that one person that is SUPER scared and they end up falling out of the chair, jumping & panicking, or making funny noises as they try to tame their heebee geebies. Oh yes, good times! Most importantly, you can’t forget about marshmallows!
Who doesn’t love to roast marshmallows? This might be the best and most memorable part about having an outside fire. First, you go on a stick hunt to find that perfect length and sturdiness then roast your marshmallow to the perfect amount of burnt that you prefer. Or, take it to the next level and break out the chocolate and Graham crackers for a melt in your mouth, perfectly crafted s’mores! But s’mores aren’t the only thing you can cook over the fire. Try one (or all) of these “fire pit fixing” ideas next time you Escape to Blue Ridge!
The Healthy-ish Approach
Have you ever considered roasting fruit over an open fire? No? Well, you should because it is F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S! Choose from pineapple, bananas, watermelon, apples or peaches. The fruit sugars almost caramelize making for a divinely delicious guilt free treat. Of course, having a little caramel or chocolate on hand to dip your roasted fruit into never hurt anyone, and definitely adds more “pow” to your taste buds! Make ahead fruit kabobs or just place them on your stick like you would a marshmallow! Side note: strawberries dipped in marshmallow fluff and then roasted will make your mouth do a happy dance!
Who says fire pit cooking has to be basic and boring? Impress your guests with fireside Shrimp Scampi! This meal is super easy to prepare, but even more divine to eat! All you need is foil, butter, peeled & deveined shrimp, a little lemon, and your favorite seasonings. We typically improvise with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but for you by-the-bookers, here’s a simple go to recipe with exact measurements.
It may not be fancy, but there is something extra delicious about a roasted hot dog! It really doesn’t get any easier than this. Pick your favorite dog, we are partial to the Hebrew National all beef hot dogs, pierce it with your stick and roast away. You can even toast your hot dog bun on a stick for a well-rounded hot dog experience!
Fast, easy and delicious…that’s my kind of cooking! You can prepare these French bread pizzas ahead of time or create a little make-your-own station on the picnic table. Slice your French bread, cover with marina sauce, add your favorite toppings (pepperoni, mushrooms, Canadian bacon, olives) and finish with mozzarella cheese. Wrap your creation in heavy duty aluminum foil and throw them on the fire!
Dare To Be Different
Super easy, but super delicious is campfire cinnamon rolls! Simply buy your favorite brand of refrigerated cinnamon rolls, we personally love Pillsbury Grands. All you have to do is unroll a cinnamon bun and divide the long pieces of dough into sections. Wrap a portion around your stick, careful not overlap for even cooking, and roast away!
Next Level S’mores
Bacon. Yes, you read that right. A little graham cracker, a little
marshmallow, a little chocolate, and a couple of pieces of bacon (which you
could also roast over the fire) will have your tongue jump out and lick the eyebrows
right off your head!
We also encourage you to mix up your chocolate options. Truth be told, it’s hard to beat a piece of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, but have you ever thought of using a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup? What about a Kit Kat Bar? We suggest you try a York Peppermint Patty next time, you won’t regret it. In fact, you may never go back to the traditional s’mores again!
If you’re looking for a way to warm up from the inside out, a Hot Toddy is definitely in order and extra enjoyable sitting outside by the fire. Boil water over your fire and add a tea bag to your cup. Let your tea steep for about two minutes, then add a shot (or two) of whiskey, a little honey, a slice of lemon, and some cloves for extra spice. Bam! Now we are ready to make some fireside memories!
There are a lot of Blue Ridge mountain cabin rentals with
great views, charming décor and proximity to activities and recreation
destinations. Some have many bedrooms and are great for large families and
groups of friends, and some are cozy and quaint that are perfect for a small
family or a two-couple or BFF getaway. Regardless of the cabin size and
location after the sun sets and dusk falls across the mountains what better way
to relax than to sit around the fire pit with your favorite people telling stories,
roasting marshmallows, and creating memories to last a lifetime. On your next
Escape to Blue Ridge, consider one of these ten cabins that have fantastic fire
Bearway To Heaven
Perched on a forested hillside with an absolutely breathtaking view of the lush green mountains in the distance and Lake Blue Ridge shimmering below, this magnificent log home is surrounded by the glory of nature, and close to all the outdoor activities that the Aska Adventure Area has to offer. Inside, its cathedral ceilings and huge windows let in light, create an open and airy feel, and maximize the view. Sunrises are especially spectacular! Or you can take in the view from a rocking chair or roast marshmallows over the fire pit, which has five colorful Adirondack chairs encircling it.
After the day’s activities, you’ll slumber in comfort in one of five comfortable bedrooms, each with luxurious bedding and a unique quilt. But the best thing about Bearway to Heaven is the blissful way you’ll feel when you’re there, and the memories of that feeling that you’ll take home with you.
Big Buck Lodge
Big Buck Lodge is a charming mountain chalet in a lovely wooded setting. But what sets this tri-level vacation home apart from the others are the unique, one of a kind touches you won’t find anywhere else. Built by local craftsman Jerry Sisson of Jerry’s Mountain Furniture for his daughter, it’s made of handcrafted wood floor-to-ceiling and throughout the house, with unique log beds and branch chairs and tables in every room.
Each of the three bedrooms are outfitted with a queen bed topped with a cozy quilt and a screened-in deck or balcony. There’s plenty of seating on the lower screened-in porch, including rocking chairs and a swing. Afterward, you can have a relaxing soak in the hot tub, or toast marshmallows over the fire pit while you enjoy the evening breeze. Big Buck Lodge’s ambiance is its best attribute. Its seasonal glorious views of mountain sunrises and sunsets, serene natural setting and the relaxed and happy way you’ll feel while you’re there make for an unforgettable getaway.
This cabin’s name, ‘Cohutta Overlook‘ tells it like it is — this home is perched beautifully on an overlook high above the spectacular Cohutta Wilderness. With more than 40,000 mountainous acres, it is the largest wilderness east of the Mississippi and runs from Fannin County, Georgia up to the Smoky Mountains on the Tennessee/North Carolina border. And here, at the Cohutta Overlook lodge you’ll be in the distinct position to be above it all.
This cozy cabin sits peacefully on the edge of Sunrock Mountain and has panoramic year-round views. This cabin is decorated in rustic elegance with custom furniture and attention to every detail. Start your day by enjoying the view overlooking the Cohutta mountain range and witness the flight of eagles and hawks as you sip your morning coffee on the large, open porch. If you are looking for a romantic mountain getaway, enjoy the beautiful spa on the main level and then relax by the stone fire pit or curl up in front of either of the two massive, stone fireplaces inside.
Come On Inn
Come on Inn and make yourself at home. In fact, that’s the very reason this cabin was given its welcoming name. Its cozy environment will make you feel like this is your home away from home right away. The cabin’s beautiful interior mixes mountain cabin decor with charming country accents to create a unique and inviting atmosphere all its own.
This gorgeous mountain home’s riverfront location is the envy of many other Blue Ridge cabin rentals. Sitting right on the shores of the Toccoa River, close to the Aska Adventure area. In the evening, there’s no better spot for stargazing than the lovely fire pit area. Gather some chairs, listen to the river flow and the crickets chirp, and take in these special moments with family or friends. What a serene way to end each day.
Meandering Moose is custom, 3000 sq/ft. luxurious cabin in a private mountain community appropriately named Natures Courtyard. Located in the Northern portion of the Georgia mountain region, it is ideal for all seasons offering a private secluded area and a gorgeous view of the hardwoods and evergreens for which this amazing region is known. Its private and rustic setting allows you to enjoy the peacefulness of the North Georgia mountains.
The large covered deck spans the length of the entire back of the home offering several conversation areas to have quality time with your family and friends – whether gathering in front of the gorgeous outdoor stone fireplace or eating at the outside dining table. You can also enjoy the full deck on the front of the house in the rocking chairs and outdoor swing while waiting for the occasional deer to stroll by. Take in the views from the private Master Bedroom upper deck and still watch over the kids roasting marshmallows around the beautiful stone paved fire pit.
SpyGlass is the name, the view will explain. The largest of our Blue Ridge GA cabin rentals, seize the opportunity to stay in this $5 million custom resort lodge with its own private pool and spa, where you can come and go by helicopter, and treat the entire family to 8,000 sq. ft. of pure luxury and decadence. SpyGlass is the stuff of fairy tales. Every detail, from the large log cross-beamed ceilings down to the polished wood floors, is dressed in elegance.
Start your morning keeping fit and healthy with the help of
gym-quality weight and exercise machine. After your workout relax as you
marvel at the wide-open 40-mile views before you. Set out fresh fruit and
snacks in the gazebo for your guests while they swim, sunbathe or chat at
tables and chairs throughout the deck. After dark, the fire pit is an
enchanted place for stargazing and making s’mores.
Stone Pine Lodge
Stone Pine Lodge is not your typical Blue Ridge mountain cabin rental. As you’d expect, this brand new vacation home has the rustic cabin feel, secluded private setting and breathtaking view of the mountains from its tri-level decks. There are enormous windows in its great room that let you take in nature in all its expansive glory. The cabin is also the epitome of effortless modern luxury, putting everything–state-of-the-art at your fingertips. With sound system TVs, lighting, remote gas fireplaces and hot tub with Bluetooth-enabled speakers throughout all with simplistic operations, the better to relax and enjoy the comforts of your home away from home.
The cabin can accommodate 11 guests in its three comfortable bedrooms (all with custom king beds with pillow top mattresses), a loft with a twin over queen bunk bed made of striking Amish wormy wood logs, and a queen-size rough saw timber sofa lounger in the game room. Step outside onto the decks and you can fire up the gas grill for a barbecue, settle into a rocker with a drink or soak your cares away in the six-person hot tub in the warmth of the custom level gas fireplace (there’s a wood-burning one too, on the entertainment deck above). Other options for outdoor fun include horseshoes, a corn hole game, rope swing, deck hammock and fire pit with seating for 12.
Toccoa Lookout Cottage
Toccoa Lookout Cottage is not your average Blue Ridge GA cabin rental. With 3,000 square feet of gorgeously decorated living space and four bedrooms to accommodate 11 people, all the comforts of home and amenities of a private resort, and the Toccoa River running through the property, this is a very special place. Beautifully crafted with two huge decks with plenty of seating overlooking the Toccoa and a third deck down the steps at the river’s edge with a picnic table, chairs and a fire pit, the property is customized for outdoor living.
Inside, this magnificent, updated, and unique home is warm and inviting. It is elegantly furnished and decorated in soothing, calming neutral shades that complement the serene, tranquil ambiance of its natural setting. The cottage’s greatest asset is the way it will make you feel when you’re there and remember long after you leave.
Stepping into Tondelia, you’ll immediately be taken by its views and open, airy feel, with spacious rooms and windows at every turn. You’ll marvel at the careful attention to detail that’s been lavished throughout the cabin, where the game room is every bit as beautiful as the main floor and gorgeous bedrooms.
Looking for pure relaxation? Lounge on the leather sofas
watching the big game, warmed by the cozy gas fireplace. Grill some burgers and
eat lunch on the deck during halftime. Spend the afternoon in the gorgeous game
room, playing billiards or soaking in the indoor Jacuzzi, gazing out at lush
and vibrant fall foliage from your magnificent windows on the world. Hire a
local chef to prepare a celebratory dinner for you and your guests. Enjoy some
pre-dinner drinks and music out on the deck. Then retreat to the elegant dining
room, where you’ll be treated to a fabulous meal and amazing views as the stars
start peeking through the skylights above you. After dinner, bring some hot chocolate or a Spanish
coffee down to the fire pit. Reminisce with your old friends by the light of
Woodentops is the perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of your everyday hectic life. Located in Mineral Bluff, just 15 minutes from the shops and restaurants of downtown Blue Ridge, this charming real-log cabin is the ideal family vacation destination. With room for eight guests in three bedrooms, the accommodations are spacious, comfortable and inviting.
You can breathe in fresh mountain air while relaxing with a glass of wine in a rocking chair or soaking in the soothing bubbles of the walk-in hot tub. Or settle into an Adirondack chair and pop open a bag of marshmallows to toast over the fire pit. The best thing about Woodentops is the peaceful, relaxed, refreshed way you’ll feel when you’re there, having fun with your family and friends (even the canine ones—you’re welcome to bring two small dogs). It’s the kind of magical place where memories are made, and yours will last a lifetime!
For most American kids, our first introduction to the concept of trail markers is Hansel and Gretel’s attempt at leaving crumbs on their venture into the woods. The birds thwarted their efforts and that’s where their fictional journey begins. First published in 1812, their story was read to children in Germany at the same time the Cherokee Indians were creating their own trail markers here in the North Georgia Mountains. Or are Trail trees just folklore?
Trail Marker Trees
Trail trees, trail marker trees, crooked trees, prayer trees, thong trees, or culturally modified trees are hardwood trees throughout North America. One unique characteristic of the trail marker tree is a horizontal bend several feet off the ground, which makes it visible at greater distances, even in snow. These distinctive characteristics convey that the tree was shaped by human activity rather than deformed by nature or disease. The legend is that Native Americans intentionally shaped these trees for navigational purposes or to mark important places, such as sacred burial grounds.
Throughout the North Georgia Mountains, a day of hiking can find you encountering one or more of these gentle bent giants in our forests. As you hike through one of the twenty four top forests in our area you’ll stumble upon some of the most incredible shaped trees and wonder if they are the work of Mother Nature or did an American Indians walk these same trails 200 years ago. It is both highly possible and very likely that the tree was there marking a specific direction or possibly an area where a plant grew at its base that was used for healing.
For many, a hike in the woods is an adventure you remember from your childhood days. It is a child’s foray into uncharted territory, a field or a wooded area close to home where they might discover an old unidentifiable bone, a creek filled with crayfish, or a cluster of butterflies on a floral bush they’ve never seen the likes of before. They come back from these walking expeditions with pockets filled with pretty leaves, unusual shaped stones and always a bird feather or two. As adults we reawaken that lust for exploration and here on these mountain trails, there seems to be one treasure that many are hunting: Fairy Crosses.
The Legend of the Fairy Cross derives from the Cherokee Indians and thought to be over 2000 years old! It is said that long, long, ago fairies inhabited a certain quiet and remote region in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The fairies roamed freely, enjoying the beauty and serenity of that enchanted place. One day, the fairies were playing in a sunny dell when an elfin courier arrived from a far-away city bearing the sad news of Christ’s death. When they heard the terrible details of the crucifixion, the fairies wept. As their tears fell to the earth, they crystallized into little stone crosses. Though the fairies have long since disappeared, the little stone crosses, known as “fairy stones,” still remain as vestiges in that enchanted spot. There was a belief among the Cherokee that the crosses had the power to reduce the owner invisible at will. In some instances, the tiny crosses were supposed to give the owner the power of diving into the ground and coming up again among the enemy to scalp and kill with unexpected terror.
The Scientific Side
Fairy crosses (aka fairy stones) are small bricks originally formed seven miles underground of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Staurolite crystals form into little tiny “bricks” that, under pressure, twist in 60 degree or 90 degree angles, forming crosses. As they push their way up to the earth’s surface, the action of wind and rain dissolve the softer surrounding stone called schist to reveal the precious cross-shaped minerals within.
The good fortune of finding fairy stones is best after a heavy rain. Dig with your hands along the soft dirt at the base of the trees. The cross stones are the same color as the dirt, so use your hands to sift the stones from the soil until you find a cross shaped stone about the size of a small marble, usually less than an inch in length. They are wonderful keepsakes when found, and can be polished and used as a lucky pocket token, or designed into a necklace, bracelet, or earrings.
If you haven’t had the good fortune to find a fairy stone on your hiking trip, you can still find a wonderful collection of fairy crosses at Pezrok in downtown Blue Ridge, a gallery full of artistic creations of exquisite minerals, fossils, gems and carved driftwood.
There are countless numbers of adventures to be had on your visit to these mountains. You’ll want to capture many of your explorations in pictures to take home and share with us, your family, and your friends. Oh, and while you are taking a cell phone selfie at one of the bent trees you are likely to encounter, remember your phone is also equipped with GPS, which will assure your chances of getting back to your car in the parking lot. As we already know from 19th century literature, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs will not suffice.
If you’re looking for a scenic
trail with beautiful falls at the end, and to check off a couple high profile hiking
trails while you’re at it, Long
Creek Falls in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Blue Ridge, Georgia
should make it to the top of your list.
An easy to moderate difficulty
rating, Long Creek Falls is a two-mile round trip “out-and-back trail” that
sits directly on the Appalachian
Trail (AT), with access to both the Benton
McKaye Trail and the Duncan Ridge Trail. Uniquely, the Appalachian Trail
and Benton McKaye Trail run together as one route during this particular
section of the footpath.
With full falls, even in the
middle of summer, Long Creek Falls is one of the first attractions along the
Appalachian Trail and one of the prettiest you’ll find not only in Fannin
County, but also throughout all of the North Georgia Mountains! Exposed rock
frames the cascading water, allowing for optimum sitting spots along the bank
of the falls and the creek that it feeds. Before tumbling over one large rock
face, Long Creek runs over smaller rocks, making the final drop into a shallow
pool at the base of the falls even that much more impressive. Since the falls
are only a short walk off of the AT, it’s a hot spot for thru-hikers who want a
quiet place to rest their feet, take a nap alongside the river, or simply sit
and take in the beauty of the falls.
Family & Pet Friendly
Over the years, Long Creek Falls
has also become a destination for day hikers, particularly families and those
with dogs who want a decent trail to visit on the weekends. In fact, it’s grown
so much in popularity that the parking lot at Three Forks (the area you’ll
drive to the start of the trail) is always packed, sprawling out down the dirt
service road, especially on the weekends. So, if you’re wanting a less crowded
view of the falls, going on the weekdays would give you more privacy to enjoy
the trail and the falls once you get there.
For those with kids or grandkids,
the falls are a huge hit since the shallow pool serves as the best spot to take
a refreshing dip in the cool water, especially on those particularly sticky,
southern summer days!
Take It Up a Notch
If you’re feeling especially
ambitious after hiking Long Creek Falls, you can extend your hike another 8.6
miles and head toward Springer Mountain, the southern terminus for the Appalachian
Trail. Though more difficult than Long Creek, the “out-and-back” from the
trailhead at Long Creek to the peak of Springer Mountain offers one of the most
diverse terrains on all of the Georgia section of the AT. Just follow the 2 x
6-inch white blaze north!
Are We There Yet?
You can hear that soft rustle of
water from the start of the trail all the way through.
As far as getting to the trailhead
goes, it isn’t a hard one to find. In fact, you can even plug the location into
your GPS and it’ll take you right to the parking lot. From Blue Ridge, you’ll
take Old Highway 76 and hop on Aska Road until it dead-ends into Newport Road.
Take Newport Road until it ends and turn left onto Doublehead Gap Road.
Doublehead Gap will turn into a dirt road, which you’ll follow until the
three-way split. On the split, follow Forest Service Road 58 until you reach
Three Forks, which is just over five miles.
Once you’ve made it, park your car, follow the trail across the road from the footbridge, and take in all the wonder and beauty of Long Creek Falls!